"I'M ECSTATIC," T. Milton Street proclaimed yesterday after a judge ruled that the Philadelphia mayoral candidate can remain on the May Democratic primary ballot, despite having been a registered independent when he filed to run last week.
Common Pleas Judge Chris Wogan made his ruling following a spirited hearing during which Street, 74, representing himself, sparred repeatedly with attorney Kevin Greenberg, who represents Joseph Coccio Jr., secretary-treasurer of the Transit Workers Local 234.
Coccio, whose union has endorsed mayoral candidate state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, filed the challenge to have Street kicked off the May 19 ballot over the party registration issue and due to the claim that he does not live in the city.
Wogan said he will continue to hear testimony about the residency claim on Monday morning before making a ruling.
Street told Wogan that he has lived on Firth Street near 23rd in North Philadelphia since 2011. He presented his driver's license and other forms of identification as proof. Greenberg argued that Street actually lives in Moorestown, N.J., with his common-law wife.
As for Street's party registration, Wogan said his ruling in favor of the candidate boiled down to whether he was being deceitful when he signed an affidavit on March 10 claiming to be a Democrat; or if he had just been reckless and negligent in doing so.
Wogan said he would have had to strike Street's name from the ballot if he found that he had been deceitful. But the judge concluded that Street's conduct was the result of him being "beyond negligent."
Street registered as a Democrat on March 12, two days after the deadline to do so.
Greenberg said an appeal to Commonwealth Court may be in order.
"The judge ruled that you do not need to be a Democrat to run in the Democratic primary, and I suspect that is grounds for an appeal because of the anarchy that would follow that ruling, as well as the fact that it contradicts law," Greenberg said.
"I had no intention of deceiving the voters. I think he made a right decision," Street said.
"I think that I have overcome the most difficult challenge issue. Residency, I don't see as a real difficult challenge," he added.
When pressed by reporters about whether he lives in New Jersey, Street became agitated and, through clinched teeth, said:
"I don't live there. I swore under oath, now I'm swearing to you. Don't ever ask me that question again because I'm tired of answering it."